Air traffic controllers celebrated on their day

| 22/10/2013

(CNS): In recognition of International Air Traffic Controllers Day, which will be celebrated worldwide this Sunday, 20 October, the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) is acknowledging its team of 15 Air Traffic Controllers, three Trainee Air Traffic Controllers and three Air Traffic Control Assistants, at Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) and Charles Kirkconnell International (CKIA), who are charged with the responsibility of keeping the skies of the Cayman Islands safe for the travelling public. It is on this day that Air Traffic Controllers all over the world celebrate the responsible and challenging profession they are in. (Left: Joshua Burke, Rodney Dixon and Hendric Myrie, part of the team at the Brac airport)

Every day thousands of flights are guided safely through the skies, the CIAA said in a release. Whether they are carrying passengers or cargo, flight crews rely on the professionalism of air traffic controllers, other support personnel behind the scenes and the systems they utilise to ensure a safe journey.

While most air traffic control environments utilize radar systems to assist controllers in providing required separation criteria between aircraft established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Cayman Islands’ airspace utilizes non-radar or “procedural” control. This method of air traffic control provides horizontal and vertical separation of aircraft based on time, distance, height and geographical locations of aircraft positions based upon ground-based navigational aids.

Procedural control requires the air traffic controller to mentally visualise the location of aircraft based on each aircraft's flight progress strip, which records its route, speed, altitude, and estimated times as they fly over predetermined points. The controller then makes the determinations in applying the required separation from this process. In other words, from all the information collated, a procedural controller’s “radar screen” is the flight progress board as well as the mental picture that is maintained in his/her head. In the world of air traffic control, procedural control is recognized as the most challenging and is highly respected. (Above: Clem Scott and Colin Solly)

Air traffic controllers in the Cayman Islands often progress from the role of Aeronautical Information Services (AIS) officer, which introduces an individual to the air traffic control environment. This function provides assistance to air traffic controllers and pilots by processing flight plans, disseminating critical airport operational information and collating the air traffic statistics for our airports. Depending on an individual’s desired career development and after meeting selection criteria, an AIS Officer could be selected as an Air Traffic Control Assistant (ATCA). This is seen as preliminary training for air traffic
control functions, as the Assistant is directly exposed to the control environment and assists in preparing information which the Controller requires. However, while an ATCA does not control air traffic, upon completion of a required period and undertaking a written and practical assessment program, an ATCA could be selected for formal air traffic control training.

The Cayman Islands utilizes the College of Air Traffic Control in Trinidad & Tobago, which is ICAOcertified. A Trainee Air Traffic Controller will undergo a ten-month program of academic and practical training at the College and if successful, will be required to undergo a minimum of three months of on the job training before being certified. Air Traffic Controllers are required to undergo full refresher training every 13 months in order to maintain their certification. Their entire training and certification process is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI).

Acknowledging the valuable contributions of the Air Traffic Controllers and Aeronautical Information Service Officers at the islands’ two international airports, Walter Ebanks, Senior Manager Air Navigation Services for the CIAA, commented, “On behalf of the Airports Authority, I commend our Cayman Islands team for their professionalism, track record and dedication to maintaining aviation safety in the Cayman Islands. Their combined efforts contribute to the overall safety of travellers throughout the world and
we recognise them on this special day.”

Hendric Myrie, who has been with the CIAA for the past 24 years, 21 of which has been as an Air Traffic Controller at CKIA, remarked, “I thoroughly enjoy being a part of the Air Traffic Control team and each day is a learning experience in this position. My career with the CIAA has been very rewarding and I go to work every day with a sense of appreciation for the responsibility entrusted in us to maintain safety in the skies.”

Commenting on her role as an Air Traffic Controller for the past 10 years at ORIA, Nicola O’Connor, who has been with the Authority for 17 years remarked, “I feel that the role I perform at the CIAA is an extremely responsible one and I am privileged to be a member of the Air Traffic Services unit which possesses a great track record for aviation safety. I am also proud to be the lone female Controller and encourage other aspiring females to pursue a career in this field as it is very rewarding. At present I provide guidance toa female Air Traffic Control Assistant as she undergoes training to move up the ranks.”

Air Traffic Controller at ORIA, Jeremy Miller, who has been with the CIAA nine years, also expressed his sentiments regarding the role his team plays, “I am proud to be a member of the CIAA’s Air Traffic Controllers and I appreciate having the opportunity to make a marked contribution to aviation safety in the Cayman Islands.”

Below: The Air Traffic Control team at ORIA: From L-R, back row: Robert Boggess, Jay Evans, Craig Smith, Supervisor, Erick Bodden, Supervisor, Jonathan Schutte, Robert Harris (currently Acting Chief Operations Officer), Theodore Kelly, Jeremy Miller, Alastair Bird, Jason Giddings, Michael Woods. Seated, from left: Derrin Brandon, Nicola O’Connor, Davina Jackson and Simon Rivers. Missing from photo: Meshak Conolly.

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